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I Want You — to Be a Sucker

Yupeng “David” Deng, 51, of El Monte, Calif., found a lucrative business opportunity: enlisting fellow Chinese nationals into the U.S. Army. According to prosecutors, Deng formed the “U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve Unit”, appointing himself as “Supreme Commander”. He then allegedly told recruits that joining the unit was a path to citizenship, and charged each initiation fees as high as $450 — and a $125 annual renewal fee. Recruits were able to increase their rank by making cash donations to Deng. Prosecutors also allege Deng issued fake Army uniforms and military IDs, and instructed recruits to report to his office, which was made to look like a U.S. military recruiting center, for indoctrination and training. The ruse was so convincing his soldiers even marched in a parade, and toured the U.S. Midway Museum in San Diego, all while dressed in uniform. Deng is being held on $500,000 bail, and faces up to 8 years in prison on charges of theft by false pretenses, manufacturing deceptive government documents, and counterfeit of an official government seal. (MS/Los Angeles Times) ...But at least he’ll get to wear an official uniform for up to 8 years.
Original Publication Date: 01 May 2011
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 17.

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